'Using Covid-19 as a cloak to justify jobs’ cull'
Closure of Alexander Dennis plant in Guildford with 200 job losses ‘cynically fast tracked’, says Unite
The closure of the Alexander Dennis (ADL) plant in Guildford this week after 125 years of vehicle building with the loss of 200 jobs was ‘cynically fast tracked’ using the global pandemic as an excuse.
Unite said the Guildford closure was ‘extra shameful’ as there were already 150 chassis earmarked for the Surrey operation – enough for at least five months of production – which will now be diverted to an outsourced company in the UK.
Unite said the closure of the Guildford operation by ADL, the UK’s largest bus and coach builder, was an example of a large corporate company using ‘the cloak of Covid-19’ to axe highly skilled jobs – and outsource work to Turkey.
In the summer, ADL announced that over 650 jobs were under threat at Guildford, Falkirk in Scotland and Scarborough in north Yorkshire which had been approved by parent company, the NFI Group.
Consultations continue at Falkirk. However, the consultation at Scarborough has ended with 90 employees from a workforce of about 600 being made redundant.
Unite national officer for automotive industries Steve Bush said, “The abrupt closure of the ADL Guildford site yesterday (November 5) was a brutal act that gave long-standing colleagues hardly any time to say ‘goodbye’.
“We believe that the closure was cynically fast tracked to avoid negative publicity and it is extra shameful as an order for 150 chassis earmarked for Guildford is now being diverted to an outsourced company in the UK,” he added.
“As Guildford was producing seven chassis a week, there was at least five months of work in the pipeline that could have ensured employment for the workforce, while we explored how the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s extension of the furlough scheme to the end of March 2021 could have been utilised to safeguard our members’ jobs,” Bush went on to say.
“It is clear that ADL bosses were planning this so-called restructuring of their operations before the pandemic struck earlier in the year.
“The company has been using Covid-19 as a cloak to justify this jobs’ cull and shown a complete disregard for either its workers or the national interest,” he continued.
“However, this won’t stop Unite continuing to campaign for the governments in Scotland and Westminster to support the bus building industry through the pandemic crisis, but any such support must come with cast iron guarantees that it is used to defend jobs.
“When the UK emerges from Covid-19, it will need the skilled jobs at companies, such as ADL, to meet the challenges of the post-pandemic global economy.”
By Shaun Noble